I bought this on cassette in the early 80’s. This da one made me a Toots fan forever! It’s an all time feel-good favorite album and goes a long way towards explaining why I’m such a fan of classic reggae.

I’m not familiar with all of Toot’s work, but this album brilliantly illustrates for me how Soul Music and the Memphis sound were influences on Toots. It’s not my original thought; it’s been said elsewhere. What he comes out with is far from derivative – it’s like a brilliant echo. Check out my other postings on Sam and Dave – compare for yourself. And then just think about the influence of reggae on American and world popular music…     Toots, is an originator, yo!

This album seamlessly and slyly incorporates pedal steel guitar on some of the tunes – one of the slickest and most effective uses of the pedal steel I’ve ever heard. It speaks volumes to Toots’ musicianship and his openness to other influences. The production values on this album are a remarkable achievement. There’s lots of well integrated organ playing throughout – very bubbly.

There’s a beautiful cycle of songs about relationships. “Beautiful Woman” is a hilarious tongue in cheek cautionary tale about the perils of beautiful women. In “Spend The Weekend”, he’s fed up and asks his partner to go “spend the weekend with your mother”. “Two Time” is a classic been-done-wrong song, an eloquent mix of smoky anger, paranoia and plaintive vulnerability, using echo to heighten the tension. In “Missing You” Toots gets the heart ache. It’s a beautiful song about heartbreak, as only Toots could sing it. “I Know We Can Make It” is a percolating request for his partner to stick by him… it would be hard to resist!

“Careless Ethiopians”, “Revival Time” and “Never Get Weary” are nice statements about his faith and beliefs. “Never Get Weary” exemplifies the indomitable Jamaican spirit in the face of poverty and racism, a powerful indictment against colonialism’s slavery past.

“Will You Be Kind” is an eloquent plea to remember the less fortunate that is sure to get under your skin. It would make a good anthem for today, as relevant as it ever was in 1981, as more and more people get left behind economically:

“You left me so far behind when you know I didn’t have a dime / ‘So sorry, sonny’ / You left me so far behind – tell me, why you so unkind? / Will you be kind, will you be kind… while eating your belly full?!”

All of these songs can be purchased as MP3s at Amazon and found on YouTube or MySpace. The CD is sadly out of print and it can only be hoped that the powers that be are persuaded to re-release this lost masterpiece – with decent mixes. It hangs together seamlessly as a whole and the sum effect is greater than the parts. They sure named this album right, though – this album is a Knock Out!

“Never Get Weary”

I was down in the valley for a very long time and I never get weary yet

I was born and raised in a little earth shack with my poor family

I was from before     Christopher Columbus

And I was from before     the Arawak Indians

Trodding creation      before this nation

I’ll always remember    I can’t forget

I was walking on the shore when they put me on the ship

and they threw me overboard

And I swum right out of the belly of the whale

and I never get weary yet

They put me in jail and I did not do no wrong

and I never get weary yet

http://www.myspace.com/theweathervanes

Here’s a very talented singer / songwriter / musician / arranger – Kevin Gunn. A friend from years ago, we recently were back in touch.

There’s some really funny stuff. He’s got a great, dark, intellectual sense of humor – he’s a great writer. The music has something for everyone; some of these are really rockin’! The tunes stick with you. There’s a couple of country-ish ones I really like, with violin and Spanish guitar. They’re all good. His singing compares favorably to Warren Zevon’s, emotive and plaintive at times, if not quite as ragged (a good thing.) If I was a radio programmer, these songs would all be top forty.

I love his singing, playing and arrangements. Listen to “Aunt Bee” and “Honey, It’s the Police” as a whacked-out introduction to a finely honed sense of  humor.

I particularly like “Honey It’s The Police”.

I was listening to the director’s commentary track of a movie recently. I paraphrase: “The human mind is a rational thing. As such, it does not comprehend the meaning of violence. Presented within the context of art, the brain’s imagination is stimulated enough to comprehend the ‘meaning’ of violence on a different level.”

This song, for me, gets inside the mind of  someone that has taken things to the nth degree – some bizarre strain of violence. As their world becomes narrower and narrower, they are left wondering, detached and perplexed, at their own actions. It’s examination via the vicarious.

Plus it’s got a great melodic vocal hook that drew me back to the song, got me interested.

Kevin, outstanding songs! I hope a lot more people get to hear your work!

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“Aunt Bee” by Kevin Gunn

(to a driving hard rock beat):

Slavin’ night and day for the sheriff and his son

Cookin’ and ‘a cleaning but the work is never done

Now she’s lurking in the kitchen  honing up her butcher knife

Gonna be trouble in Mayberry tonight!

She’s heading down the street to Floyd’s barber shop

Now that she started she just can’t stop

Sticks his head in with the combs now he’s trying to breathe through fluid

Floyd’s got the blues but Bee she feels so good

chorus:

Aunt Bee, where are you goin’?

Aunt Bee, where are you goin’?

Aunt Bee, where are you goin’ – now?

Goober’s in the station with the car up on a rack

But with a cut hydraulic line it comes down fast

He tries to stop it but the rack doesn’t yield

And Goober’s flatter than a bug on a windshield

Aunt Bee, where are you goin’?

Aunt Bee, where are you goin’?

Aunt Bee, where are you goin’ – now?

Barney comes looking for the sheriff and his son

Sees all the blood so he takes out his gun

But the bullet’s in his pocket – there’s no time to put it in

Last thing he hears is the click of the firing pin

(repeat chorus twice)